Cauliflower Pasta

Packed with bright and briny flavors, this roasted cauliflower pasta recipe is a simple, delicious dinner. Crispy toasted breadcrumbs take it over the top.

Cauliflower pasta with toasted breadcrumbs

Where to start with this cauliflower pasta recipe?! Friends, this one’s a keeper. Caramelized roasted cauliflower mingles with ruffly pasta, capers, parsley, and toasty, lemony breadcrumbs. I love the mix of bright and briny flavors and how the tender cauliflower contrasts with the breadcrumbs’ crunch. The combination feels elevated, but don’t let it fool you. This cauliflower pasta is surprisingly simple to make. Jack and I ate it for dinner early last week…and then again last night. Can you tell that we’re hooked?

Cauliflower pasta recipe ingredients

Cauliflower Pasta Recipe Ingredients

To make this cauliflower pasta recipe, you’ll need these simple ingredients:

  • Cauliflower, of course! This recipe packs in an entire head.
  • Pasta – I love using campanelle in this recipe because of how its ruffled edges mimic the cauliflower florets. If you can’t find it, or if you don’t have it on hand, sub in another short-cut pasta. Penne or rotini would work well too.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil – It helps the light, lemony sauce coat the pasta and infuse it with flavor.
  • Garlic – For sharp, savory depth of flavor.
  • Fresh lemon juice and zest – They add a delicious brightness to this cauliflower pasta recipe.
  • Capers – For briny flavor.
  • Pecorino cheese – To make this recipe vegan, use my Vegan Parmesan instead.
  • Fresh parsley – Its fresh flavor balances the salty, savory capers and cheese.
  • Red pepper flakes – For heat.
  • And salt and pepper – To make all the flavors pop!

Last but not least, you’ll top the pasta with toasted breadcrumbs. I season them with more lemon zest and cheese to pack in extra depth of flavor!

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Raw cauliflower florets on a baking sheet

This recipe uses a whole head of cauliflower, but it won’t feel like that much when you’re eating it. Once it’s tender and golden brown, the cauliflower really blends in with the pasta, which makes this dish super fun to eat!

Roasted cauliflower florets on a baking sheet with wooden spoon

Cauliflower Pasta Recipe Tips

  • Keep the cauliflower florets small. That way, they’ll integrate seamlessly into the pasta. This dish is best when you get tender, caramelized cauliflower and al dente pasta in every bite.
  • Roast the cauliflower until it’s browned. If your timer goes off and the cauliflower hasn’t browned yet, keep roasting! The browning is crucial to the overall flavor of the pasta. It adds sweetness and nuttiness that you don’t want to miss out on. So take the time to let the cauliflower get nice and toasty in the oven. Trust me, it’ll be worth it!
  • Use more pasta water than you think you need to. Pasta cooking water is this recipe’s secret ingredient. Full of starches from the pasta, it brings the olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic together into a light sauce. I ask you to reserve 1 1/4 cups in the recipe, which might seem like a lot at first. Don’t be afraid to use it (or at least most of it), though. It won’t make the pasta watery! Instead, it’ll meld into the dish, making it moister and more flavorful.

Campanelle in Dutch oven with wooden spoon

Cauliflower Pasta Serving Suggestions

When you’re ready to eat, garnish the cauliflower pasta with extra lemon zest and a big shower of toasted breadcrumbs. Be sure to keep more breadcrumbs handy as you eat. They add such a nice crunch that I always sprinkle on more halfway through!

This cauliflower pasta is a satisfying meal on its own, but it also pairs perfectly with a salad. Try serving it with any of these recipes:

Round out the meal with white wine and good crusty bread. Enjoy!

Cauliflower pasta recipe

More Favorite Pasta Recipes

If you love this cauliflower pasta, try one of these pasta recipes next:

Cauliflower Pasta

rate this recipe:
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
Total Time: 1 hr
Serves 4
Packed with bright and briny flavors, this roasted cauliflower pasta is simple and delicious. Keep extra breadcrumbs handy when you serve it. They add such a nice crunch to the dish that I always sprinkle on more halfway through!

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Roast the cauliflower according to this recipe, skipping the added lemon zest, parsley, and Parmesan options. Make the seasoned breadcrumbs according to this recipe.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare the pasta according to the package directions, cooking until al dente. Before draining the pasta, scoop out 1¼ cups of the starchy pasta water and set aside. Drain the pasta.
  • Return the pasta to the pot and add the olive oil, capers, garlic, and roasted cauliflower and stir to combine. Add half the reserved pasta water and stir to combine. Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and cheese, and the remaining pasta water, as needed, if the pasta is dry.
  • Stir in the parsley and red pepper flakes and season to taste with more salt and pepper.
  • Serve topped with the breadcrumbs and more lemon zest for garnish.

6 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. food lover
    02.10.2022

    thank you, my weeknight recipe rotation needs some help! this will certainly help and better than restaurant kung pao even better!

  2. Ashley McLaughlin
    01.31.2022

    5 stars
    This was soooo yummy! Even better than I expected. Easily doubled it for leftovers. 🙂

  3. T
    01.27.2022

    This recipe is just delicious. Everything turned out as expected. I opted for the nut-free version of the vegan parmesan and loved it. The pasta is so creamy and comforting, and the kapers make it so much more interesting. Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. Becky
    01.26.2022

    5 stars
    This recipe is so delicious!!! This was my first time making homemade breadcrumbs. The lemon and cheese in the crumbs made me want to just eat them plain! I used my own handmade pasta which made it extra special. Will be making this again and again!

  5. Jen
    01.23.2022

    5 stars
    This has many similar elements to an Alison Roman recipe we started making the first week of the COVID shutdown in 2020. We absolutely adore it, but I’ve been wanting to find a lighter version (hers uses heavy cream to make a sauce) and since I had all the ingredients, I made it for lunch today!

    This is a fantastic option! So flavorful, the capers add a really nice brightness. I think I found our new favorite!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.